“The Giving Pledge,” launched last year by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, has inspired at least 10 U.S. families, including Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru, to pledge half of their vast fortune to charity, reports India-West, the San Leandro-based weekly newspaper.

The Buffet-Gates pledge is an effort to increase charitable donations in the United States and inspire conversations about philanthropy among the nation's elite.

Philanthropy experts say Indians have a long culture of giving, but mostly to the local temple or community, or for education projects.

"If you consider high-net worth giving, either the way it is practiced in the United States or the United Kingdom, I think India has a long way to go,” Priya Vishwanath, co-founder of Dāna Asia, a foundation that aspires to promote equitable development in Asia, told Voice of America.

“For instance, there are serious doubts whether the kind of pledges that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet have made, whether that kind of giving can actually take place in India," Vishwanath told Philanthropy Today .

India has 52 billionaires and more than 125,000 millionaires. According to a study by the global consulting firm Bain & Company, India's giving in 2006 totaled close to $5 billion, which translates into an estimated $7.5 billion in 2009. This is only 0.6 percent of India's GDP. By contrast, Americans gave more than $307.75 billion or around 2 percent of GDP to charity in 2009, in spite of the recession.

Last December, India’s third-richest person, software tycoon Azim Premji, transferred shares valued at around $2 billion in his Bangalore-based IT company, Wipro, to a new charitable trust. It is believed to be the largest philanthropic donation by an Indian.

Fifty-six-year-old India-born Vinod Khosla is Silicon Valley's most prominent "green" venture capitalist and a dominant personality in the clean tech community. A co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Khosla was a general partner at the venture capitalist firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, before striking out on his own with Khosla Ventures in 2004.

Khosla Ventures focuses on clean tech and information technology start-ups, with a portfolio that includes carbon sequestration and storage, solar, batteries, bio-fuels, building materials, energy efficiency and next-generation lighting and appliance companies.

Khosla is keenly interested in funding technologies that can be widely adopted in fast-growing India and China, what he regularly refers to as the "Chindia test."

As of March, Khosla's net worth was $1.4 billion, according to a calculation by Forbes.

Several of Silicon Valley's leading entrepreneurs, including venture capitalist John Doerr, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have previously signed on to the Buffet-Gates pledge.